Halloween parties are always a fun mix of crazy and weird, and the Friday night show at Captain’s Cabin Pub in Downtown Mission was no different. Featuring the bands Kin, Random Dander, Midnight Lions, and La Chinga, the show was an eclectic one, as the bands all brought their own individual style and sound, helping to create a contrast between one another while aided by the cozy setting of Captain’s Cabin.
For Kin’s first-ever bar gig, the trio pulled off a characteristically excellent showing, once again blending their moody, folksy sound with a more aggressive style. Lukas Blaak’s drumming was smooth, and combined with Keaton Sauder’s bass, they set the stage for guitarist and lead singer Trevor Blaak to use his voice to incredible effect. Usually they sound and feel a little more laid-back and contemplative, and while those elements were still present, this time they also showed a sharper edge, baring their teeth a little bit more.
It’s a sign of change and growth as musicians, as the youngest band on the bill came out and established a high bar for their contemporaries — a bar that Random Dander didn’t quite match. Despite a creditable and entertaining performance, too often they felt rushed and overdone, with their guitars seeming to be in a constant contest with their two drummers to see which instruments could dominate a song, which reduced the vocals to an unfortunate bystander. Random Dander was full of energy and enjoyable to watch, but lacked variation and a certain flexibility that just didn’t click into place.
Midnight Lions were up next, and having seen them at the Jam in Jubilee and the Envision Concert Series over the summer, I was excited to see what they’d do this time. They duly delivered yet another exciting performance, with a classic, almost-pop style that got the packed dance floor going wild. It was extremely clear that they were there to have fun, with Simon Menard (guitar) and Brandon Clark (bass) dressed up like ‘80s hair metal musicians and all smiles, while Allison May (keys) and Conor Barclay (drums) added that calming, gentle touch to the performance. On a side-note, Brandon Clark played while standing in front a fan, which made his luscious locks flow like he was in a hair product advert, and if I could, I would suggest that L’Oréal sign him up!
Closing act La Chinga was new to me, but it was very clear the trio had an almost telepathic connection with one another. With a badass vibe and a smoke machine, they came out and rocked the Cabin, with bassist and lead singer Carl Spackler performing with an old school, hard rock, Lemmy Kilmister-style attitude. Jay Solyom (drums) provided a bruising performance as he battered his drums into submission, and at one point lost his grip on a drumstick but still somehow maintained the rhythm and kept the band going before an audience member got it back to him. The highlight of La Chinga’s performance, however, surely had to be the virtuoso performance by guitarist Ben Yardley, who began the show in a banana costume before peeling it off and shredding his guitar with an Eddie Van Halen-esque demonstration of speed and skill.
The night was a success, mostly due to the energetic, powerful showing by the four bands, coupled with a consistently full dance floor. The intimate, cozy (nigh cramped) nature of Captain’s Cabin made this Halloween party a terrifyingly fun night.